Glenlossie 27yo 1984/2012 (57.9%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection for Waldhaus am See, Sherry Butt #2532, 504 bottles)

Recently my Whisky club went on a trip to Switzerland (again), and this time on our journeys we visited Waldhaus am See, almost running over some white rabbits who live in the parking lot these days. The plan was to stop only for half an hour or so, to have a look at the famous (and large) Whisky bar, because we had plans to visit another place too. We entered the hotel and left more than half a day later. Spending some time in the bar, having lunch and having a look at Claudio’s private collection and the Hotel Whisky shop. We left with quite some bottles. We also had a look at the world’s second largest wine-collection. Wow! Never a dull day.

Glenlossie 27yo 1984/2012 (57.9%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection for Waldhaus am See, Cask #2532, 504 bottles)Color: Copper

Nose: Very musty right off the bat, but quickly settling. After a while it gets more winey. and dusty. Some hints of fireworks (toasted cask), but also hints of cardboard, and morning breath. Creamy with hints of smoke (toasted cask?) and fresh wood. Cream, vanilla and wine are the main markers of this nose, but also some after eight. Mint with chocolate. When completely settled it get even perfumy. Absolutely interesting whisky. Lots happening in this one.

Taste: Again winey, with lots of toasted cask. Charcoal and prickly smoke (yes in the taste!). Very appetizing stuff. Sweet and charcoal with some hidden vanilla. Very tasty and although this has a pretty high ABV, for me this is easily drinkable. Orange skins, some acidity and slightly bitter, again from the toasted cask.

Waldhaus am See has a tradition of bottling a lot of Whisky for their hotel, and a lot of those bottling sell out very quickly, even big Butts like this one. Nice Glenlossie this is.

Points: 86

Thanks go out to Michael for taking care of us for so long. Excellent! Thanx also to The Genietschap for letting me have a sample of this bottle to be able to write this review. Thanx guys!

Clynelish 33yo 1973/2006 (54.3%, Signatory Vintage, The Prestonfield, Cask #8912, 405 bottles)

At last a new review at Master Quill! Some kind of throat infection and a Polish vacation stood in the way of writing some new reviews. But now all’s well and time to do some tasting again! I’m also happy to inform you that at last today was a day that made me forget about the half-year winter we had. First time it was really nice to sit outside in the sun, with even a nice cup of coffee and a little cigar, a Vegueros Seoane I reviewed more than a year ago.

Let’s get out some Clynelish. This Clynelish was officially bottled by The Prestonfield Whisky Company Ltd. which is just another moniker for the Signatory Vintage Company. There is also a second bottling of a 1973 Clynelish, of sister cask #8913. Under the Signatory label, Casks #8914 and #8915 were bottled in 2006 and 2007. These last two bottlings mention a Refill Butt, so this one here is probably from a Refill Butt as well. All four Butts were bottled as 33 year olds.

Clynelish 33yo 1973/2006 (54.3%, Signatory, Prestonfield, Cask #8912, 405 bottles)This Clynelish was distilled July 23rd 1973, a year Brora was still open but not very active, if active at all. As we all know, 1972 was Brora’s finest year, or so it seems. Time to find out what they did one year later at Clynelish…

Color: White wine

Nose: Farmy, with butter and old wood spice. Sweet and sweaty. Dusty and above all lots of beeswax. Typical Clynelish and a typical old Whisky. Also a fresh sea-air note. It has some hints that make me think this was a Fino Butt, but it could have been a Bourbon cask as well. Nothing is particularly Sherry in this one. It’s mainly oak (which here is a very lovely smell), and wax. It does tend to smell sweet, but not very fruity. Not fruity at all.

Taste: Sweet and again the spicy waxy wood. Great and elegant! Who said old whiskies are overly woody, and who said wood is a bad thing. Not in this one! This taste is a great example of how wood can taste when it’s carried by some sweetness and waxiness. It’s fat! Mocha, milk chocolate, toffee and again very Fino-ish. Later on a toasted not emerges accompanied by some sea weed and wait for it…It’s medicinal! The elegant wood lingers on and stays in the finish for quite some time.

A whisky of great balance, what you smell is what you taste (WYSIWYT). When I think of it, no, it’s still not very complex (but it is pretty sweet). Just like a Prestonfield Ben Nevis 1975. Also fabulous tasting whisky. That one is almost a Scottish Bourbon, yet also not very complex.

Points: 91

North British 25yo 1964/1990 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Cask #10451-10454, 1300 bottles, 75cl)

Well lets end this month with something different. Wow! Look at the label. Pure Grain Scotch Whisky! Today we call this a Single Grain Whisky. North British was founded in 1885 and lies near Edinburgh, on the site of a former pig farm. North British is a joint venture between Diageo and The Edrington Group. I don’t think Diageo needs an introduction, but the Edrington Group today is best known for their Highland Park and Macallan distilleries and The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark blends.

Grain whisky is usually made in a continuous column still. Most important is that this still operates continuously as opposed to a pot still. The alcohol from a continuous still is much cheaper to make. The spirit is made at a higher strength (ABV) and has less flavor, more neutral. This kind of whisky is made for blended whisky, and is not often bottled by itself. If bottled by itself, like this single grain, almost all of it is aged for a prolonged period of time, to get as much flavor as possible from the cask is matures in.

Color: Gold

Nose: Clean sweet rum. Not overly woody, but the wood speaks. Fantastically old and creamy. Lots of vanilla. Spicy and floral. The floral part does remind me of roadside flowers in bloom. A very summery feel, and we need summer just about now. Fresh butter, cookie dough, creamy and very lively. If I could, I would eat this!

Taste: It’s the hint of clean yellow, light rum, the nice wood, the creaminess and the vanilla that come right through into the taste, but that’s it, nothing more. It is great as an example of an old grain, and it’s likable and utterly drinkable. A whisky lemonade, gone before you know it. Just hook this up to a soda machine that adds bubbles to your drink. This will be your summer refreshment! Alas in a bit of a diluted fashion. This should have been cask strength probably. It’s fabulous and very, very, simple.

As I have found in the past, old grains usually do smell the part, but lack a bit in the taste department. This smells fantastic but has a very simple taste, with a finish to match. I found this whisky to gain a lot of taste and balance from a lot of breathing. Do you like it? You bet I do!

Points: 84

Thanks to Michel for providing the sample!

Glenugie 30yo 1977/2007 (46.3%, Signatory Vintage, Hogshead #5507, 243 bottles)

Yes, it’s a Glenugie. long time overlooked and very popular the last few years. It’s a closed distillery (1983) and quite popular with whisky aficionado’s. Just as is the case with Banff today, connoisseurs discovered a closed distillery that has a special quality to it. I have to admit that all of the Glenugies I tasted scored at least 85 points and most well higher than that. Only one is lower than that. I scored the sister cask #5506, also by Signatory Vintage, only 81 points. So let’s have a look if all those 55xx casks are the same and if this one’s any better.

Color: White wine.

Nose: Estery and fresh. Green apple skin. Grainy and a slight hint of vanilla. You could have fooled me with the age of this one. Seems much younger and cleaner, than I would have expected, knowing what this is. There is also a hint of cask toast and wood. Sweet and fruity, peaches on syrup. Creamy toffee with a hint of coconut. I like the nose, it’s like candy. Great balance.

Taste: Sweet like sugar, icing. Vanilla, no wood whatsoever, not at first anyway. It has some spice from the wood. Apples, without the bitterness from the skin. Finish isn’t too long, and just a tad sour. The wood does show its face, late in the finish. Good drinking strength with enough oomph. Again, it seems much younger. The balance in the taste is also somewhat weaker than the very nice fruity nose.

It’s nice and likeable. Nice piece of history. Just not a lot happened in all those years. For me it’s better than it’s sister cask, but still no high flier. You’ll really have to be a buff to recognize the markers of an old Glenugie. But isn’t beauty in the details?

Points: 84

Thanks go out to Nico again for handing me this sample.

Springbank 36yo 1970/2006 (53.1%, Signatory Vintage, First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt #1629, 461 bottles)

After reviewing one of the most popular official releases by Springbank, the 10yo at Cask Strength, this time a Single cask bottled by Signatory Vintage in their heavy glass decanter series that are hard to handle (the Cask Strength Collection). The fourth already on these pages. Hard to handle maybe, but so pretty. This time it isn’t in one of those clumsy tins, but in a beautiful, probably fake mahogany box. Even if the whisky is mediocre, the packaging is stunning. Let’s hope the contents measures up, because that’s what you’re paying for.

Color: Radiant Orange Brown, with powdery sediment.

Nose: Wow. Buttery. Very old wood with lots of spices. Nutmeg and ginger. Dusty toffee. Sherry as in raisins. Deep sugary raisins, not fruity. After some breathing it gets some lovely spicyness to it. Toasted wood and warming. Really great nose, with a developement to it. So packaging great, nose great, high hopes for the taste now.

Taste: Woody and dry. But there is some chewy sweetness to it. Roundness is maybe a good word. Also some bitterness from the wood. Coffee (Espresso), Warming chocolate. It really is a hot brandy spiked cupa coco. Also some cough bonbons. Not especially as complex as the nose is. What you see is what you get. Later some mint and furniture wax. Nice throat coating finish.

This definitively got way better when the bottle got time to breathe. Both the nose and taste got better. It shifts its focus from the wood and nice bitterness to something more rounded out and lets you see more of what’s underneath. Not the best old Springbank around but still a very nice one if you give it time and an open mind. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Points: 91

Ladyburn ‘Rare Ayrshire’ 34yo 1975/2009 (45.2%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Bourbon Barrel #558, 166 bottles)

Yes! Another example from the distillery that took its water from the Penwapple Reservoir, yes say it again, the Penwapple Reservoir. This time one of the many sister casks from the last year of operation, bottled by Signatory. Yesterdays cask was nice, but I couldn’t say it was worth your money (when you plan to drink it, rather than just mere collecting it), so will this be any better? This will be nice to compare to yesterdays one. Are they all the same? What does happen, when the same spirit is put into ‘supposedly the same casks’? In effect we can see a little bit here, what maturation in wood can do.

Color: Gold (slightly lighter than barrel #562)

Nose: Spicy wood. Clean and citrussy. Fresh sea air. Mocha and Cappuccino. Fresh cut grass. It’s different from cask #562, with a more typical Lowlander style. Fruitier, lemons and apples. Slightly woody with grass and hay. Lovely.

Taste: Sweetish, more estery sweet. This seems a bit  young too. Not very complex but a good body with apples. It has a different kind of sweetness, thicker and more tiresome if you have a lot of it. Nuttier too. Yes more hazelnuts. The finish has more woody influence and is a bit more bitter, but nothing to be afraid of. This has more balance and body. The other cask seems thinner.

No two casks are alike. whats the influence of cask, wood etc. Of the two, this is the better one. Nice full body and a great Lowlander. I enjoyed this one more. Good finish and nice aftertaste too. Because of the different sweetness this has, (corn-sugar), this seems to me less drinkable than cask #562. Still, who would try to drink the whole bottle at once, of this museum piece, so drinkability is not an issue here. Nice Ladyburn. Recommended.

Points: 84

Ladyburn ‘Rare Ayrshire’ 34yo 1975/2009 (46.9%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Bourbon Barrel #562, 172 bottles)

Ladyburn wasn’t long around. Opened in 1966 and already closed in 1975. It was built by W. Grant & Sons within their Girvan grain distillery complex. Not completely uncommon in those days, since there were more malt distilleries on a grain distillery site. Glen Flagler was added to the Moffat site and Ben Wyvis was added to Invergordon. All three didn’t last long and are pretty scarce these days. These Rare Ayrshire’s are still around, but there will be a time soon, they will not, and prices will soar. So is this worth your money? Lets see…

Well officially there is no Ladyburn on the label, still it isn’t hard to guess what this must be. Out of the blue Signatory started to bottle a lot of casks from Ladyburn. Which is always nice since the place shut down in 1975 and whiskies from Ladyburn are getting more and more rare.

Color: Gold

Nose: Clean, like you would expect from a younger bourbon cask. Grassy, cold butter. Spicy yet light. Caramel, vanilla and clay. Powdery. Mild wood, which smells a bit odd here, small hint of rot maybe? It smells old now, but also not quite right. Grainy and with that, hinting at sourness. Finally perfumy and creamy.

Taste: Butter. Very grassy, lemonade-like. Mild wood, like liquid old sawdust. It’s not without body this. Caramel and powdery cream. Sweet and ever so slightly bitter. Nutty, hazelnuts. Not very balanced and rather anonymous. If you close your eyes you could imagine this being from a bourbon barrel. It slightly resembles Woodford Reserve.

I have to say that after some breathing it tastes better compared to when it was freshly opened. Beware, this Lowlander is easily drinkable and that’s not good for what is essentially a museum piece Whisky.

Points: 81

Glenkinchie 21yo 1987/2009 (56.6%, Signatory Vintage, Hogshead #2837, 147 bottles)

Glenkinchie, a rarely seen Lowland distillery within the ranges of independent bottlers. Founded in 1837, Glenkinchie is foremost known for the closure of Rosebank. When Diageo set up their range of classic malts they chose Glenkinchie over Rosebank. As you might know, Rosebank is known to have a huge following, so this decision wasn’t welcomed at all. Now Rosebank is no more, we’ll have to see if this Glenkinchie is worth your money. Instead of a regular Diageo bottling, let’s try an independent one.

Color: Gold

Nose: From a distance it already smells smoky. Close by, its not that smoky and the smoke dissipates very quickly. Syrupy, estery and announces a big bold body. Pineapple on syrup. Ever so slight hints of oak, toast, salty lemongrass and mocha. Very elegant and balanced. Nice.

Taste: Sweet and big bodied Lowlander. Again some smoke and a nice sourness from the wood that’s nicely counterparted by the initial sweetness. This also has some pepper and licorice. Yet it all balances out in a nice meaty, coffee like and dry finish. Also lightly roasted nuts and caramel in the finish.

To be frank, I’m a bit surprised by this Glenkinchie. I didn’t expect this to be so…ehhh good. I expected this much lighter, but its bold and the coffee and pepper are a great addition to what was already very nice. Yes there is some coffee in the middle part and in the finish and I read somewhere that the regular 12yo does well with coffee, worth to check this out. Brilliant Glenkinchie.

Points: 88